Since the end of the economic recession, Jaguar Land Rover has seemingly been unable to do anything wrong. The company has turned a profit every year since 2010, with a combined 462,209 cars sold in 2014 alone. But the company plans on selling 850,000 cars a year by the end of the decade, and in order to make good on this, it needs to make some big changes to reach its lofty goal.
For Jaguar, the new BMW 3-Series-fighting Jaguar XE should help to attract some new buyers, and while the F-Type keeps the brand on magazine covers, everyone from Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini knows that the real money is in the SUV market. Luckily, Jaguar does too. Enter the F-Pace.
Jaguar has been teasing the public with a pre-production model for months, but with weeks to go before the production version is unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the company has released one of the most detailed looks at the SUV yet. To prove that the big cat doesn’t have any reliability issues (historically a big if for Jags), the company has released images of the car being tested in Dubai and northern Sweden, temperature extremes spanning from 40 below to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In a company press release, Jaguar Vehicle Program Director Andrew Whyman was pleased with how the F-Pace acquitted itself, saying:
“Just as we paid obsessive attention to detail over the engineering of every single component, we’ve exhaustively tested the F-PACE in the most challenging conditions to ensure that it will exceed the expectations of our customers around the world.”
While we still don’t know all the technical details, we do know that it’s already one of the best-looking SUVs in the world.
The F-Pace is the first SUV ever offered by Coventry’s finest, and who better to help with developing its first off-roader than Land Rover? If all goes as expected, the F-Pace could be one of the most important models in Jaguar’s illustrious history, and also represents the closest collaboration yet between Jaguar and Land Rover (which has been paired on-and-off by three different owners since 1968). The go-anywhere Jag is loosely based on the new XE’s platform, albeit in a beefier guise. Like the sport sedan, it utilizes and aluminum-intensive construction to keep weight down, and will be powered by JLR’s new Ingenium line of turbocharged engines. And don’t expect an old-fashioned row-your-own gearbox – it’s likely that the F-Pace will use JLR’s new fuel-sipping nine-speed automatic transmission.
There’s a lot that can go wrong when a company decides to design its first SUV, and luckily for Jag, it had legendary designer Ian Callum at the helm to navigate a potential minefield. The striking front end looks nearly identical to the tastefully redesigned XJ sedan, and the taillights are just larger versions of the lamps on the F-Type. Everything in between is based on the 2013 C-X17 concept; it’s well-proportioned and restrained. Unlike Porsche, which needed a few years to figure out how to style an SUV, Jaguar nailed it right out of the gate.
But Jaguars have almost always been beautiful, and it hasn’t always translated into sales for the brand. In order to be a winner, the F-Pace will need to be more than beautiful, more than rugged, and more than just a status symbol. It will need to be a truly mass-market vehicle, one that people would not only take over exotics like Porsche, stablemate Land Rover, and the upcoming Alfa Romeo SUV, but also $40-$60,000 suburban staples from Lexus, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes – and that’s a role that Jaguar has never been comfortable with. But in order for the F-Pace to succeed, it really doesn’t need to be as good as the F-Type, it just needs to sell. Luckily for Jag fans, JLR doesn’t work like that. From here, it looks like F-Pace is a modern luxury SUV done right.
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